Tour de France: Konrad seals first grand tour stage win with ease

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Patrick Konrad's exceptional effort in the last 35 kilometres of Tuesday's stage 16 of the Tour de France sealed his first triumph at a grand tour.

The Austrian was part of a three-man breakaway which took on the penultimate climb on the 169km route through the Pyrenees. 

Yet Konrad made a push at the base of that category two ascent, dropping Jan Bakelants and Fabien Doubey.

Green jersey rivals Sonny Colbrelli and Michel Matthews attacked alongside David Gaudu to drag the gap to Konrad down to 35 seconds at one stage, yet that was the closest they would come.

Konrad stepped on the gas during the descent and was able to celebrate a brilliant solo victory in the last 600 metres – it is BORA-Hansgrohe's second stage win of this year's Tour, with only Mark Cavendish's Deceuninck-QuickStep having won more.

"First win in a world tour, at the biggest cycling race in the world, I'm really speechless," Konrad said.

"The team always gave me the trust for it. I thinak it came at the right moment, to win a stage here makes me really proud.

"I was already three times in the break, and I was always waiting really until the final, and it was always not the best decision, because [other people] went really early, and I said to myself, 'OK, when I come one more time in this situation, I am the guy'. I gave it a try, and I'm really happy I had the legs and made it until the finish."

With five stages remaining, the race for the points classification is hotting up, with Colbrelli just pipping Matthews to second.

Points leader Cavendish finished well within the cut-off time and will this week be looking to extend the record of 34 stage wins at the Tour de France that he shares with Eddie Merck. Yet Matthews and Colbrelli will attempt to make further inroads in the remaining two mountain stages to catch the Manxman.

Tadej Pogacar, meanwhile, had little trouble keeping his general classification rivals at arm's length.

Indeed, Pogacar may have been expecting to work harder, yet no rider chose to mount an attack on the GC group until the final climb.

Pogacar's focus was on point as ever, though, and he trundled over the line with his five-minute gap intact.

 

STAGE RESULT

1. Patrick Konrad (BORA-Hansgrohe) 4:01:59
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) +0:42
3. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) same time
4. Pierre Luc Perichon (Cofidis) same time
5. Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels P/B KTM) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 66:23:06
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 242
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 195

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 74
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 66
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 64

What's next?

"I have done the recon of tomorrow, I know the climbs, it would be better if I hadn't seen!"

Those were the words of Pogacar when asked about Wednesday's stage, which is a 178km route featuring three of this year's Tour's biggest climbs packed into the last 60km, following an intermediary sprint which could prove crucial in the green jersey battle.


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